High school students place seventh in state contest

Special to QCS

Mesalands Community College’s Dual Enrollment students Cole Cooper and Nathan Andrada recently placed seventh in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition in Albuquerque.

The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition is for high school juniors and seniors interested in automotive technology. Cooper and Andrada were both Dual Enrollment students at Tucumcari High School taking college courses through Mesalands. After enrolling in automotive technology courses at the College, the students began the qualification process for the state auto competition.

In order to qualify for the competition, students had to complete an online exam that tested the students’ automotive knowledge and problem solving skills. There were approximately 2,000 students in the state of New Mexico that completed this exam. Based on their scores, Cooper and Andrada were one of ten teams in the state that were invited to participate in the competition.

Each team had two participants that were presented with a repair order that listed what the customer needs were on a 2010 Mercury Milan. After the students attempted to repair the different mechanical and electronic problems, they were then required to drive the vehicle around the track to the finish line. The first place winner continued on to the national competition.

CJ Gentile, automotive

/diesel technology faculty, at Mesalands Community College says he is proud of the students’ performance at the state auto competition, and says they took home a bigger title than seventh place.

“Competitions like Ford/AAA, helps students to grow and learn about the real world, looks good on their resumes, and builds their self confidence,” Gentile said. “Overall, I thought they did very well.

Gentile said that Russ Patton, Service Manager for Hamilton Big Country Ford in Clovis, had a big part in preparing the students for the competition and helped them with some of their traveling expenses.